Fifth Third Bancorp Rolls Out Gift Card

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Fifth Third Bancorp yesterday took its first steps into the gift card market by debuting its Premiere Issue stored-value gift card program.

The bank is cross-selling the new gift card to merchant clients that use the bank's credit and debit card processing services. Fifth Third provides processing services to roughly 30,000 blue chip national merchants, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Federated Department Stores, The Finish Line Inc. and Kroger Co.

The new gift cards will be branded with each retailer's name, the company said. Retailers may market the cards as traditional gift cards or as a means of issuing in-store credit. The retailers will determine the minimum and maximum balance on the card, and the cards will be offered for no fee. Each merchant client will handle all marketing of the cards.

"The private-labeled gift cards can serve as a walking logo for the merchant," said Stacie Yee, spokeswoman for Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp. "With paper gift certificates, merchants face the problem of theft and dealing with a paper trail."

The merchants issuing the cards have access to a 24-hour interactive voice response unit and Web site to view their customers' account information and usage.

Fifth Third Bancorp began a pilot test of the card in early May with Indianapolis-based Galyan's Trading Co., a national sporting goods retail outlet. The store has issued 35,000 cards with an average value of $50.

Fifth Third Bancorp operates 965 full-service banks in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida and Arizona.

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